Thursday, May 29, 2008

The good life

"For Taoists, the good life is only the natural life lived skilfully. It has no particular purpose. It has nothing to do with the will, and it does not consist in trying to realise any ideal. Everything we do can be done more or less well; but if we act well it is not because we translate our intentions into deeds. It is because we deal skilfully with whatever needs to be done. the good life means living according to our natures and circumstances. There is nothing that says that it is bound to be the same for everybody, or that it must conform with 'morality'. "

"Seeing Clearly means not projecting our goals into the world; acting spontaneously means acting according to the needs of the situation. Western moralists will ask what is the purpose of such action, but for Taoists the good life has no purpose. It is like swimming in a whirlpool, responding to the currents as they come and go. 'I enter with the inflow, and emerge with the outflow, follow the Way of the water, and do not impose my selfishness upon it. This is how I stay afloat in it,' says the Chuang-Tzu. "

"For people in thrall to 'morality', the good life means perpetual striving. For Taoists it means living effortlessly, according to our natures. The freest human being is not one who acts on reasons he has chosen for himself, but one who never has to choose. Rather than agonising over alternatives he responds effortlessly to situations as they arise. He lives not as he chooses but as he must. Such a human being has the perfect freedom of a wild animal -- or a machine. As the Lieh-Tzu says: 'The highest man at rest is as though dead, in movement is like a machine. He knows neither why he is at rest nor why he is not, why he is in movement nor why he is not.'"

John Gray's, Straw Dogs, p.112-115

3 comments:

Dave Pollard said...

Amazing book, isn't it? For me it was absolutely life-changing.

Jeff Patton said...

Oh yeah, it's an amazing book. Changed the way I think about so many things. I love feeling those moments of insight.

Chas said...

sounds like i want to be a taoist